One of the conspirators, Brutus is supposed to be Julius Caesar's BFF but he ends up stabbing his so-called pal in the back, literally and figuratively. Does this make Brutus a villain worthy of a Lemony Snicket novel? Not necessarily, but we'll let you decide.
Biggest Backstabber Ever or Roman Hero?
Brutus' decision to stab Caesar in the back isn't an easy one. He has to choose between his loyalty to the Roman Republic and his loyalty to his friend, who seems like he could be heading toward tyrant status. When Brutus hears how the commoners are treating Caesar like a rock star, he's worried for Rome:
What means this shouting? I do fear the people
Choose Caesar for their king.
Ay, do you fear it?
Then must I think you would not have it so.
I would not, Cassius, yet I love him well. (1.2.75-89)
Even though Brutus "love[s]" Caesar "well," he also fears that his friend will be crowned king, which goes against the ideals of the Roman Republic.
After killing his pal and washing his hands in his blood, Brutus defends his actions:
If there be any in this assembly, any dear
friend of Caesar's, to him I say that Brutus' love
to Caesar was no less than his. If then that friend
demand why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my
answer: not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved
Rome more. (3.2.19-24)
OK, fine – we believe Brutus when he says it was hard for him to murder Caesar. But does his sense of patriotism really justify killing a friend and a major political leader? It turns out that this is one of the most important questions in the play, and there aren't any easy answers.
Great-Grandfather of Macbeth and Hamlet
When we first meet Brutus, it becomes clear that he's the play's most psychologically complex character. Check out his response when Cassius asks him what's bothering him:
Be not deceived. If I have veiled my look,
I turn the trouble of my countenance
Merely upon myself. Vexèd I am
Of late with passions of some difference,
Conceptions only proper to myself,
Which give some soil, perhaps, to my behaviors.
But let not therefore my good friends be grieved
(Among which number, Cassius, be you one)
Nor construe any further my neglect,
Than that poor Brutus, with himself at war,
Forgets the shows of love to other men. (1.2.42-53)
When Brutus says he's been at "war" with himself, we know he's pretty torn up about something. Is he worried about Caesar's growing power and what he'll probably have to do to stop him from becoming king? Probably. The rest of play traces Brutus' inner turmoil, which is why a lot of literary critics see Brutus as the great-grandfather of two of Shakespeare's later protagonists: Hamlet (the moodiest teenager in literature) and the introspective Macbeth. This speech also says a lot about Brutus' character. When Cassius asks him why he's been so upset lately, Brutus' first priority is to apologize to his pal for being so moody and neglectful of their relationship. Obviously friendship is very important to Brutus.
The Noblest Roman of Them All?
There's a reason Antony calls Brutus the "noblest Roman" (meaning most honorable): he stands up for what he believes in, risks his life for Rome, and doesn't seem to be concerned with personal gain. Yet for all of Brutus' good qualities, his troubles stem from his decision to murder a man and his misjudgment about the consequences. Brutus' defining traits are still up for discussion: is he more naïve than noble, more callous than considerate? Brutus' honor convinces him that they shouldn't dispose of Antony when the other men want to, and his trust in Antony's honor leads him to believe Antony's funeral speech will not be an invitation to riot. (Sadly mistaken.)
His final words are most telling – he doesn't die just to avenge Caesar, but instead leaves a complicated legacy: "Caesar, now be still: I kill'd not thee with half so good a will." This incantation acknowledges the debt Brutus owes to Caesar, and it admits that Brutus sees some of his own failings too – leading him to embrace his own death. It's not that Brutus didn't willingly kill Caesar. He's as committed to his own death now as he was to Caesar's then. Brutus commits an act of self-sacrifice with no pride or self-pity. He's humble about what he's done (both good and bad) and quietly accepting of his own fate.Brutus' Timeline
Brutus is the Tragic Hero of Julius Caesar Essay
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Brutus is the Tragic Hero of Julius Caesar
Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar is a tragic play, where the renowned Julius Caesar is on the brink of achieving total control and power by becoming emperor of the Roman Empire. Ironically enough, when he thinks he is one step away from pulling it off, his "friends" (most from the senate) decide to overthrow him, with Caesar's most trusted friend, Marcus Brutus, acting as leader of the conspirators. Though the fall of Caesar from the most powerful man in the world to a man who's been betrayed and stabbed 30 times is a great downfall, he is not the tragic hero. Shakespeare's main focus is Marcus Brutus, a noble man who brings upon himself a great misfortune by his own actions,…show more content…
Moreover, Brutus is a high-powered man who holds great prestige before all Romans because of his nobility.
As noble and great as Brutus might be, all tragic heroes have some tragic flaws and make some errors of judgment, which leads them to their downfall. In this case Brutus's great flaw is that he is too honorable, and he's too naïve when he is dealing with people. An example of an error of judgment is when Brutus underestimates Antony, and thinks him incapable of being dangerous after Caesar's death, "For Antony is but a limb of Caesar...he can do no more than Caesar's arm When Caesar's head is off." This turns out not to be the case. One example of Brutus's excessive honor being damaging to him, is when he decides that only Caesar should die and no one else even if they seem to threaten his cause, as Cassius warns repeatedly that Antony does.
Brutus's poor decision-making and faults bring about his downfall, though they alone are not totally responsible. Brutus' decision to exempt Antony and let him make a speech in Caesar's funeral incites the crowd to go against the conspirators. This brings Antony to great power, which he then uses to pursue all the conspirators. Brutus's dire decisions bring about many misfortunes for Brutus. The first tragedy Brutus encounters is the disturbing death of his beloved wife, Portia,